Aung San Suu Kyi is about to be released: should the West reward the SLORC?

It’s looking increasingly likely that Aung San Suu Kyi is going to be released with full right to travel, very soon.

According to the article above, it is the threat of US, Japanese and EU sanctions that are driving the SLORC to negotiate.

Even with the leader of the National League for Democracy free to travel, IMO, the NLD election victory of 1990 looks unlikely to be honoured.

Is some kind of reward (as in not imposting sanctions) justifiable, since the SLORC are still likely to be treating their people like crap even with Aung free?

(Or does this move indicate the beginning of the end of the current regime, a la Nelson Mandela?)

Didn’t the SLORC try to get her to leave the country for good by offering her freedom from travel restrictions some time ago? And didn’t she see through their little trick and refuse? Looks like the SLORC haven’t learned from their past mistakes. Of course, that’s no big surprise. Otherwise, they’d’ve already honoured the election.

Like South Africa before it, Myanmar/ Burma possesses an unusual political feature - a well-defined, clearly legitimate and sophisticated opposition with relatively clean hands. So I reckon we should ask “the lady” and her people when and if she gets out. I trust her judgement. If she’s prepared to make a deal for some transition, fine. If she says this is a sham, fine.

hawthorne has it right. I would be very cautious - SLORC did let Aung San out once before, only to imprison her in her home once again after they learned they couldn’t control her.


The implication this time, however, is that it’s a proper release. From the above cite:

I know it’s tempting not to trust those f****rs, but I remember the same cynicism over the Apartheid government, too.

But the difference between Burma and South Africa is that the Apartheid government liked to imagine itself democratic and part of the community of nations. Social pressure was effective on them in a way that it isn’t on regimes like Burma or Iraq. If you aren’t part of the international community and don’t aspire to be part of the international community then a punishment of being cut off from the international community isn’t very frightening.

Regardless of what they thought of themselves, the govt. of SA weren’t democratic. The SLORC also seem to think of themselves as being represenative of the People too.

[ul][li]Discipline-flourishing democracy with rights to freedom exercised with in framework of law[]Democracy compatible with political, economic and social structures of State[]Democracy in line with historical traditions, customs and culture of nationalityEspecially democracy that brings benefits fairly for all nationals within the framework of national solidarity[/ul][/li][/quote]
My translation: “if we call despotism democracy, then it’s democracy”.

However, it’s not social ostracisation that I’m discussing - it’s economic. I recall that with the shameful exception of Thatcher’s government, there were widespread international economic sanctions imposed on SA.

WRT Burma, despite ASEAN not having had many qualms about admitting them into the fold, what’s helping to keep the SLORC propped up financially is the fact that Western companies (particularly oil companies) are prepared and allowed by their governments to do business in Burma. If Western governments made this illegal, their economy would suffer:


So the question is, should the West give them a pat on the back for being more ‘democratic’, or should ‘we’ continue to threaten sanctions to force them back to the ballot box?

[aside]A friend of mine me Aung San Suu Kyi outside her house in Rangoon in 1994. He was a bit star-struck, and the only question he could think of to ask her was “Is it Myanmar, or is it Burma?” She replied: “Burma, of course.” It’ll do for me.[/aside]

Aung San Suu Kyi was unconditionally released yesterday and was fêted by thousands of people in the streets of Rangoon. What’s going to happen next?

I am very, very happy about this. I am, however, slightly bemused that so few people in GD are commenting on this highly significant event.

This by itself is not significant. She’s been under house arrest before, has been stranded out in the jungle when her convoy got washed off the road, and the regime sat on its hands.

If they held elections again, that would be significant. She’s been calling attention to Burma for years now. Whether the regime likes it or not, the world is watching, and a suspicious looking election…well, probably won’t bring down the wrath of foreign governments or businesses, sadly. But if they do decide to honor an election that she would undoubtedly win, even if her powers were limited, that would be significant. The real question is, “What is required to get the regime to respect the voice of the nation’s citizens?” Outside pressure might be the only thing.

Gotta carrot-and-stick these guys, don’t we? Problem is, that only works if we actually use a carrot. Distasteful as it may be, there has to be some public reward for any positive steps.